Elevate Difference

The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism

The Green Zone takes two very big issues of the moment—global warming and the wars in the Middle East—and seeks to illustrate the correlations between the two. Everyone knows something about the horribleness of both topics individually, but most people, including myself, never really put the two together, so I was excited to learn what this book had to offer.

Right off the bat, one of the weaknesses is that the book spends an awful lot of time on what seems to be exposition: there is a preface, a foreword, and finally, an introduction—all of which spell out the gist of the book—before we get to the actual content. The Green Zone presents heavy questions that (according to Sanders) even the Pentagon has no answers for, such as how many military bases America has all over the world, how many Iraqi and Afghani civilians lost their lives since America’s occupation, and how many people will continue to suffer long after America pulls out of the two countries because of the various ways their environment has been polluted since the first Gulf War.

As compelling Sander's case is, he unfortunately goes off on tangents throughout the book, which detract from the point he is attempting to make. One minute he’ll be discussing the Gulf War, then the modern day ice caps, and then off to some other topic with little to no transition between them all. This gets confusing, especially when so many numbers and new terms are introduced.

The middle of the book is the most coherent, and seems to be where Sanders has the most passion in discussing the different ways the American military pollutes and endangers Iraq, Afghanistan, and even its own people. This was a hard book to read, in terms of both subject matter and delivery; however I still consider it a must read.

Written by: Jen Klee, September 14th 2009